11 January 2022
On 8 and 9 December, St Mary’s School’s Hall filled with parents and staff, eager to see this year’s seasonal production, A Christmas Carol. While large drama productions are an annual tradition at St Mary’s, they were unfortunately placed on pause by the pandemic, however, the team were determined to press ahead with a Christmas show. Rehearsed over just one term, in the face of unavoidable cast absences and performed with extra safety measures in place, the students and staff worked in extraordinary circumstances to produce this moving and heartfelt production. Indeed, as the pandemic makes another holiday period more difficult, there was never a better time to spread a Christmas Carol’s message of love and compassion.
For Head of Drama Ms Roberts, when it came to choosing this year’s play, ‘A Christmas Carol immediately sprung to mind’. The Drama Department settled on a recent adaptation by the Royal Shakespeare Company, which introduces a new meta-narrative: ‘we all loved the addition of Charles Dickens and his editor, John, debating the conception of the novella and narrating the action as it unfolded.’
The cast, composed of upper school students and featuring some Drama Scholars from younger years, brought this story to life over two evenings. Hana M.P. put in an impressive performance as Ebeneezer Scrooge, mastering thousands of lines and engaging the audience through her characterisation, timing and wit. Cecilia V.-F., Emily C., and Shalome K. guided the audience through the story of Scrooge’s redemption as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The Fezziwig ball section, featuring Achu L. and Sophie S. as Mr. Fezziwig and Mrs Fezziwig, balanced the production by providing Christmas cheer, dancing, and live music by Music Scholar Maryam G. Of all the actors, Vanille H. deserves special mention for stepping up to the role of Mrs Cratchit with less than 12 hours’ notice, as the original cast member was unable to attend, and performing the part with admirable professionalism.
The tone was set throughout the play by stunning visual effects. Technical Director Joe Nicholson employed five projectors to create unforgettable 3D scenes. Startling the audience, Sarah W.’s haunting performance as Marley’s ghost was punctuated by a terrifying scream video, and the shaking of his daunting chains, created by St Mary’s Art Scholars. The transitions between scenes were managed expertly by the backstage crew, headed by Medeea G. and Susannah T. and supported by Hannah P., Ella H. and Laura M. Finally, Mrs Weber outfitted the cast in perfect period costume, with the expertise of Mrs Pink, Mrs Kakengi and the Textile Department.
The play won over the hearts of the audience. Headmistress Ms Avery was moved to tears at the end of the performance giving heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all those involved at the end of Thursday’s performance. Head of Drama, Ms Roberts, said:
‘As a cast, we faced challenges: unavoidable absences, online cast members joining us for rehearsals remotely, but we have made it and we are so proud of how we’ve all pulled together to get this show on the stage!’.
A Christmas Carol was equally enjoyed by the actors, as one Year 7 Drama Scholar said:
‘I really enjoyed my first performance at the Senior School. I learned a lot from the girls in the years above, and the direction and support from the Drama Department was excellent. I was due to be in the Cambridge panto this year and was so disappointed when this didn’t happen due to Covid, however being back on the stage in A Christmas Carol more than made up for it.’
We would like to thank the Directors, Mr Abery, Ms Roberts and Mrs Weber, and all the staff involved for making this production possible.